Till the Old World’s Blown Up and a New One is Created Till the Old World’s Blown Up and a New One is Created

[Mosz; 2008]

Rating: 2.5/5

Styles: ambient, contemporary classical
Others: Fennesz, Tim Hecker

No one ever contended that listening to music is not a personal experience, but I would think that, for the majority of us, the most frustrating encounters aren’t those that enkindle irate diatribes, but rather those records that, for whatever reason, reveal a passive indifference to a detectable yet underlying potential. And regardless of whether said frustration stems more from unrealistic expectations on the listener’s part (outweighing the impact of some particular vice on the artist’s part that would truly render the album worthy of such an undesirable verdict), the result is nevertheless disappointing.

Unfortunately, the sanguinely titled project Till the Old World’s Blown Up and a New One is Created -- the diversified handiwork of a collaboration between Austrian musicians Christian Fennesz, Werner Dafeldecker, and Martin Brandlmayr -- falls into this classification. Yes, the cooperative boasts an enticing methodology: each artist designs and records a short composition, from which portions of a much longer piece, “Till the Old World’s Blown Up and a New One is Created,” is given birth to. As such, the group’s moniker is plainly self-referential, an acknowledgement of the importance of this guiding principle. But, like the Arch Deluxe and the XFL, the business model for this effort proves a bit more propitious than what the end result communicates.

To ensure that no one confuses the focal point of Till the Old World’s Blown Up and a New One is Created, the title track alone occupies one entire disc. In addition to a rightfully evocative title, “Till the Old World’s Blown Up and a New One is Created” doubles as an epithet, offering a metaphorical description of the working procedure responsible for generating such an epochal piece of music. A veritable melting pot, fusing rudiments strip-mined from the proceeding three tracks, the half-hour-plus composition conveys a forward-looking perspective, the tonal interpretation of a planet rebuilt from the fragments of an obliteration: epochal, as it characterizes an unsullied predawn. In fact, the phrase “period piece,” despite its ordinary referencing to some portrayal of -- or at least a work redolent of -- a bygone era, describes the composition well, the soundtrack to what its creators deem an idyllic future.

But, as appealing as the concept of selective extraction may be, the three architects responsible for the piecemeal creation fall short in creating something as compelling as its name would suggest. Unfortunately, the product is less utopian than quixotic. The process, somewhat innovative and no doubt a promising side foray in which one could acquiesce to some inner sybaritic hankering, results in unchecked idealism, which logically leads to the most transparent flaw: a lack of direction.

Incorporating a body of innumerable sounds, the sum of the parts just proves stodgy and uninspired. Any progression whatsoever is absent, which wouldn’t necessarily be a drawback if “Till the Old World’s Blown Up and a New One is Created” could ruminate and simmer with panache. Instead, the piece never emerges from its inward vortex, expending the entire 34 minutes simply feeling itself out, assessing its multifarious constitution before it finally peters out. True, individual sections provoke some inquisitive allure -- at times whirling through some distant industrial clatter, at times comparable to the creaky tangibility of Graham Lambkin’s subjects, at times resorting to untouched silence. But overall, the work is bereft of purpose, calling to mind those rare occasions when Aidan Baker trades the inventiveness of his sound explorations for mere prolificacy or the Castanets’ smörgåsbord ending for “You Are the Blood” (only about 17 times longer).

Ironically, the three wellspring pieces contained on the second disc, intended as ancillary to the title track, feel more inspired and result in moments of incomparable beauty, occasionally transcending the parameters of any one classification. “Tau” adroitly combines vaporous atmosphere with urgency, the gleam of some manipulated origin of mellifluous ambience pockmarked with the quiet improvisation of jazz-like percussion. Some of the blurrier studies of Tim Hecker are channeled in “Jets.” And “Me Son,” the fullest of the three, recalls the orchestral numbers -- replete with a ghostly twang -- of Ennio Morricone.

Most notably, however, each of the three secondary tracks feel grounded, a quality that the trio’s composite magnum opus is thoroughly void of. That is, “Till the Old World’s Blown Up and a New One is Created” teems with transient gusts of celestial, amorphous noise, elusive and unfulfilling. Its source material, though, bears an unmistakable texture (much like the crepitant surfaces of Fennesz’s solo work), the aural equivalent to some coarse textile, scratchy to one’s tactile senses.

That the zenithal culmination of this venture is supposed to be “Till the Old World’s Blown Up and a New One is Created” is bizarrely unsuitable because, with the exclusion of it and the addition of a few more pieces bearing the gracefulness and sophistication of “Tau,” “Jets,” and “Me Son,” this record would be golden. Granted, to release such a work would be more of a compilation than a collaboration, thus defeating the original purpose. But at this point, Till the Old World’s Blown Up and a New One is Created is a textbook example of when more equals too much.

1. Till The Old World's Blown Up and A New One Is Created
2. Tau
3. Jets
4. Me son

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